Many times in my life I have been told I have a negative and anxious view on life and therefore, my thinking is basically not positive. I think really though that I am a realist masquerading as an idealist meaning that I’m forever disappointed by the realities of life. Perhaps this is a long answer to why I don’t instinctively think positively.
For that reason, after multiple brittle backpacking debacles based on trying to become a varied, more interesting person based on everybody’s individual point of view, I decided to embrace a positive thinking class, something I’ve really craved for years. Specifically I wanted the class to teach me confidence whilst instilling positive and generalised attributes about my personality (the fact it was a complete stranger meant nothing) These attributes would be vague and deliberately permissive, such as “You’re a great person who has yet to reach their full potential”, and other tidbits reminiscent of an Eat, Prey, Love masterpiece or widely accepted classic from the self-help genre.
Excited by this idea I waited the week for the course to begin. The location was on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, a street renowned for hipsters and hippie-wannabes in equal measure. Arriving in the minimalist, white serenity of the feng shui’d shop floor, I was told to take off my shoes and go upstairs, to a carpeted living room amongst a class full of eager students, the type of attendees you’d imagine at a ‘Save Africa’ fundraiser or a vegan-themed party. I was ready to be swept away in warm, resplendent, organic exultations of unequivocal joy and undulating hopefulness. The voice of our guide was on a perfect pitch, it existed around a wonderfully earthy, impassioned if essentially placid intonation. The class begun as it meant to go on, to muse on the aspects of our mentality. How we can balance our thoughts like our dietary requirements. The notes from the class all were evocative of common sense spoken out loud by a thoroughly rational guide; such as to dispel hatred, as this causes unhappiness and releases toxic chemicals. To counter-act this we must check and ultimately understand the value of our thoughts. So if you can’t sleep (a problem I frequently face) then you should become the master of sleep. If you can’t think in the now then, be as rational and upbeat as possible. So don’t be wishing, insisting, hoping and wanting (this wasn’t a song reference by the way) – and, the cardinal sin when trying to rein in those emotions, don’t be wasteful. It was a solid, unrestrained hour of this rhetoric entering my mentally. Some of the technical psychosis of this class was indeed firmly routed in the plausibility of a real life situation. Take for example an addiction, like nicotine or chocolate. According to the trail of thought within the class, the act of eating starts with a memory, which quickly becomes a habit, a tendency and something we desire. So as I over-think, that yearning thought becomes a desire of its own. It’s here I accept I’m a true Tennessee Williams cliche.
It was an intense experience, not regrettable but overladen with unrealistic promises of an entrenched sense of optimism that doesn’t exist within me. I technically only make two of the four classes and am, in many ways disappointed in myself for the failure of my lack of attendance, especially as the class conjured some wonderful shades of clarity for me. Whilst you could argue the classes’ point was lost in me, I firmly concurred that positive thinking was actually offset by the way in which I enjoyed quipping at my mindset. Happiness and contentment is an emotion that needs to be tested by offsetting that with the worst case scenario first and foremost.Having said that, I think the real success of this class is accepting that events, life experiences and things you desire don’t actually succeed purely because you want them to. You need to push yourself even if failure (or the essence of failure, at least) laps around your ankles, take one worthy story from it and bumble on to the ace you’re so so obviously searching for up your sleeve.
What I needed was confidence. And readers, within the next couple of months I’ll tell you how I found this.